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Creating appropriate boundries and leadership with horses


I have a 9 yr old mare, and recently rescued a 5 yr old gelding for companionship for her. They both are living on our 5 acre lot.

They get along great, but I notice he tends to get a little pushy with her sometimes... nothing agressive, seems he is just showing "he's the man". He is very sweet and puppy dog like with me. My question is that when I go to get my mare for riding or spend time with her in the field, he's right there, and will move right in front of her to get the attention. When I take her to the barn for grooming etc (the barn is in the field... it is hard to get her in, because he is right up her "you know what" :-)

Should I be "shooing" him, when he crowds us? How I do I get him to stay back (if possible) w/out making him angry or fearful of me? Should I put him in a stall, before I do anything with her? I've never actually owned horses before (worked at a stable for years though), so it's been a month now, and I worry I will ruin these young horses.

Thank you for any suggestions!!

Tracy & Don

Hi Tracy and Don,

Thanks for your question. There can be balance to how you create boundries with horses. Too much pressure sends them away and makes them afraid. Too little confidence in your leadership and too little energy behind your requests to back off a step or two, and the horse will ignore your boundry desires and walk all over you. Try having an extra leadrope with you. Practice twirling about 3 feet of it so it becomes a natural and easy thing to do before you get in the pasture and near the horses. Then to set a boundry with the gelding, only allow him to only come 3-4 feet from you or the other horse you are working with. Begin to set the boundry before he gets too close. You must be very consistant with your energy. (not too much and not too little). Spin the rope at him only as much as neccessary to prompt the horse to stop and/or back up a few steps to where you want, then immediately stop the pressure from the rope and offer a bit of praise, a Good Boy. Your posture and body language will assist in conveying your message as well. Standing squarely facing the horse and looking at him in the eyes is a stronger posture than offering a profile to him and not looking in his eyes. If you are consistent the horse will quickly learn where your boundries are without being afraid. Horses do not get angry like people. Everything is fear based. They are either afraid or trusting. They respect their leaders and are not afraid of them. The leaders are not alpha or bullies. They are simply good, appropriate leaders. They allow other horses to approach them or not by posturing, body language and energy from the eyes. When a herd leader moves through the herd, they part like Moses coming through the Red Sea and then teh herd follows that leader willingly. This comes from the development of respect and trust. Respect and trust are developed by controling the spacial and movement aspects of the herd. You do not have to control the horse, only the space and direct movement. You never even have to touch a horse or put a rope on them to train them. You can move them around with how you move your body and your energy.

Viewing a training DVD would help you immencely. Watching these techniques will open your eyes very quickly and educate you as to appropriate techniques to become a better horse person. Folks spend lots of money buying horses but are generally reluctant to spend a small amount of money to educate themselves. They opt for trail and error with their horses which is a terrible idea. The horse wants you to know what you are doing. Making mistakes with horses screws them up in the head and frustrates them. Wouldn't it be better for you to acquire some knowledge through viewing some educational material and understanding these skills quickly? I some good DVD's in the shopping corral of my website that would prove invaluable to you. There is tons or material available and advertised in any decent horse magazine. There are many good trainers out there who offer them if you simply decide to educate yourself other than in a few free tips.

Thank you for reaching out for some knowledge and there is much more to learn. Gain some good information and educate yourselves now. You will be amaized at how quickly you can become a better horseperson by viewing some education training material.

Sincerely, Franklin

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